The Jolt: Stacey Abrams puts guns and abortion in first attack on Brian Kemp

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Stacey Abrams talks at a press conference at Israel Baptist Church in Atlanta Tuesday, May 23, 2022. (Steve Schaefer /

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Stacey Abrams talks at a press conference at Israel Baptist Church in Atlanta Tuesday, May 23, 2022. (Steve Schaefer /

Unlike the contested 2018 Democratic primary for governor, there was not even a hint of drama in Stacey Abrams victory in last week’s Democratic primary.

But Abrams crossed an important threshold Tuesday when she formally became the party’s nominee against Gov. Brian Kemp.

Her victory behind her – she ran unopposed – the Democrat now has access to a special committee with the power to raise unlimited funds that was created by Republican lawmakers with Kemp’s reelection bid in mind.

And Abrams is already putting it to use. The “One Georgia” leadership committee on Wednesday launched a first ad of the general election campaign, assailing Kemp on multiple fronts.

The 30-second ad pans Kemp’s support for “criminal carry” gun legislation and an income tax cut. More significantly, it’s the first TV ad this cycle from Abrams that targets the governor’s anti-abortion stance.

“He rolled back women’s rights, vowing to make abortion a crime with 10 years in prison,” the narrator says in the ad, adding: Just when we need to move forward, Brian Kemp keeps taking us back.”

The ad cites Kemp’s initial support in 2019 for a so-called “trigger law” that would ban almost all abortions if Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Kemp wound up instead endorsing a separate measure that bans abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected – typically six weeks into a pregnancy, before most women know they’re pregnant.

The issues of abortion and guns could have new resonance for Democrats this cycle. A leaked Supreme Court draft opinion showed the court could soon overturn Roe v. Wade, while the school shooting in Uvalde, Tex. last week renewed calls among Democrats for additional restrictions on firearms.


Republican campaign aides didn’t know how they got so lucky last week when video surfaced of Stacey Abrams telling Gwinnett Democrats, “I’m tired of hearing that Georgia is the best place to do business when Georgia is the worst place to live.”

The line was so bad that even former Vice President Mike Pence hammered Abrams for it at his election-eve rally for Kemp.

But Charlie Hayslett, our favorite rural Georgia data cruncher, writes that the numbers show Abrams was at least half-way, completely right.

Georgia as a whole may not deserve the “worst place to live" label, but Rural Georgia arguably does. In fact, much of Republican Georgia would qualify for that title.

Abrams has since acknowledged her statement was “inelegant" but she's doubled down on her central point – and she's right to do so. In the process, she may have set in motion a long-overdue gubernatorial debate over what to do about the trouble in God's country.

- Trouble in God's Country

Hayslett pulls out Georgia’s 105 smallest counties and writes that combined, they fare much worse than Mississippi (the actual worst state) for per capita income, have more high school dropouts than college graduates, and a premature death rate 50% worse than the rest of the state.

The full column is worth your time, as is the data that shows that while some Georgians may be living their best lives, many are not.


State Rep. Beth Moore formally conceded the Democratic primary for Senate District 7 Friday to progressive activist Nabilah Islam.

But in a letter to supporters we obtained Tuesday, Moore also wrote that what she “hoped would be a friendly competition” was not above board.

“Democrats launching false attack ads against fellow Democrats -- or anyone else for that matter -- to intentionally misinform voters should be viewed as a cancer on our party and country. It must be rejected, lest we let evil take over and turn good people away from serving. I’m sorry I was unable to prevent it from being rewarded in this case.”

Multiple attack mailers sent to Gwinnett voters ahead of the primary accused Moore of voter suppression and “siding with Republicans to make it harder to vote.”

Days before the primary, a group of Democratic lawmakers, including state Rep. Sam Park, state Rep. Jasmine Clark, and state Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick wrote a joint letter supporting Moore. “We, as Democratic leaders in Gwinnett County, stand together to denounce Nabilah Islam’s false and misleading attack ads against Beth Moore,” they wrote.

The letter accused Islam of using “Trump-like tactics” and called Moore “our colleague, our friend, and a true blue Democrat.”

In the final count, Moore lost to Islam by 77 votes.


Are you subscribed to the Politically Georgia podcast yet? It’s the best way to get your #gapol news, hands free, every Wednesday and Friday…and whenever news breaks.

Today Mark Niesse joins the pod to grade the first major election since Senate Bill 202, look a the the latest from the DeKalb County recount, and talk more about Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s win last Tuesday.

And we’re sharing Greg Bluestein and Tia Mitchell’s sit down with the Sports Illustrated podcast for a look at Herschel Walker’s rise from Georgia high school state champion to GOP Senate nominee.

Listen and subscribe for free at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher.


Keep an eye on the North Carolina state Senate floor today, where lawmakers will take up a bill to expand Medicaid in the neighboring battleground state.

The legislation was introduced by Republican Senate leader Phil Berger and passed unanimously through committee last week.

The Tar Heel state has a Democratic governor in Roy Cooper, and a Republican-led legislature. Even though the Winston-Salem Journal reports GOP House leaders are cool to the proposal, the governor is open to the Senate bill. More:

Berger and Krawiec said May 25 that most GOP Senate leaders have embraced “a new reality" about Medicaid expansion.

“Medicaid expansion has now evolved to the point that it is good state fiscal policy and helps us address the mental health crisis we're facing," Berger said.

Cooper's office said the progress on Medicaid expansion is encouraging and that the governor “will carefully review this legislation.

- Winston-Salem Journal


With Georgia’s primary runoff elections on June 21, the Atlanta Press Club will host runoff debates Monday as part of its Loudermilk-Young Debate Series. Viewers can watch all of the debates live on and the Atlanta Press Club Facebook page. GPB will air recorded versions of select debates in the evening.

  • 10 a.m.: 6th District Republicans Jake Evans and Rich McCormick;
  • 11 a.m.: 10th District Republicans Mike Collins and Vernon Jones;
  • 12:15 p.m.: 2nd District Republicans Jeremy Hunt and Chris West;
  • 2:15: Democrats for Secretary of State Dee Dawkins-Haigler and Bee Nguyen;
  • 3:15: Lieutenant governor Democrats Charlie Bailey and Kwanza Hall;
  • 4:30 p.m.: Insurance commissioner Democrats Raphael Baker and Janice Laws Robinson;
  • 5:30 p.m.: Labor commissioner Democrats state Sen. William Boddie and Nicole Horn.


Vernon Jones, a candidate in the Republican runoff in Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, traveled to Houston, Tex., last weekend to attend the National Rifle Association convention.

The convention became the site of protests and calls for its cancellation because it was held just days after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Always up for publicity, Jones posted a video on social media of himself arguing with protesters. “I love the NRA, and I’m not backing down,” he said.


The U.S. House Committee on Ethics reported additional fines for U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde related to his refusal to wear a mask on the House floor earlier this year when it was still required. Clyde received seven citations from the House Sergeant at Arms for violating the temporary House rule.

Clyde, R-Athens, filed appeals related to the fines received in February, but the committee denied them.


In endorsement news:

  • Mitchell Swan and Mark McMain, former candidates in Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, have now thrown their support behind Republican Mike Collins in the runoff.
  • State Rep. Tom Kirby is backing Vernon Jones in the Republican runoff in the 10th Congressional District.
  • Former 6th Congressional District candidate Paulette Smith has endorsed Jake Evans in the GOP runoff for that seat.
  • DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond, a former state labor commissioner, has endorsed state Sen. William Boddie in the Democratic runoff this month for labor commissioner.


Today in Washington:

  • The House and the Senate are out.
  • President Joe Biden will meet virtually with infant formula manufacturers this afternoon to discuss ongoing efforts to address the national shortage.


We’re wish happy trails and quiet mornings to WSB radio’s legendary news director, Chris Camp, who is hanging up his headphones after 28 years. Good luck out there!


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